Monday, October 08, 2007

Authentication Suits

Kate Taylor had a great piece in Friday's New York Sun on the recent spate of lawsuits against art authentication boards. It begins:

"Few art historical issues are as contentious, or have as dramatic and immediate effects in the marketplace, as those of attribution and authentication. In fact, lawsuits are so common that many experts require owners to sign a statement promising not to sue before they will even look at a work and offer an opinion."

She goes on to note that "in France, the principle of droit moral gives an artist — and his heirs, for 70 years — substantial control over his name and his works, including the right to challenge the authenticity of a work purporting to be his. But in America, no one, technically not even the artist himself, has a legal right to decide whether a work is authentic or not. Instead, the power of an expert or an appointed board of experts follows only from their general credibility and knowledge of the artist's oeuvre."